- Real off-road ability
- Big new V-8 power
- Comfortable seats and driving position
- Third-row seating option
- Revamped interior looks expensive
- SUV handling
- Low gas mileage
- Cargo area sits high off ground
- Third-row seat's tough to access
- Spotty reliability
The 2010 Land Rover LR4 takes on tough terrain with ease, and it's become more adept at imparting a carlike driving feel.
The 2010 Land Rover LR4 returns for the new model year with its new name; last year, you knew it as the LR3. With the new initials comes a revised powertrain lineup of big V-8 engines, some cosmetic tweaks to its skin, and a revamped interior with a warm, upscale feel. The 2010 LR4 carries a base price of about $48,000 and competes most closely with the BMW X5, the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, the Audi Q7, the Volkswagen Touareg, and the Lexus GX 470.
It's been slightly tweaked for the new model year, but the LR4's styling mostly stays true to the former LR3. The upright, safari-chic look shares plenty with the smaller LR2 and the big Range Rover-though it's certainly the most vertically inclined. The cosmetic updates include painted bumpers, a new honeycomb grille, new headlamps, and tail lights. The LR4's interior earns the new-model name; it's completely fresh and swaps out the plasticky bits of the LR3 for a suave leather-trimmed dash with rich wood trim, softer-touch materials, and far more logical placement of controls. High-end trims get perks like walnut trim and premium leather with new stitching.
The LR4 sheds all its old Ford and BMW heritage (both companies owned the brand in the past) by adopting a new 5.0-liter V-8 engine. With 375 horsepower-75 hp more than last year's model-the LR4 feels almost fleet and nimble, with plenty of power to move it to 60 mph in under 7.5 seconds. A six-speed automatic transmission teams with four-wheel drive in a body that weighs nearly 6,000 pounds-which explains the LR4's dismal 12/17 mpg fuel economy. Rover fans know real-world driving will run toward the lower end of that scale.
The LR4 isn't as responsive on the road as carlike crossovers; the driving position is very tall, and it feels at first as if the LR4 is going to be tipsy in corners, but it maintains impressive composure in on-road cornering and on rough road surfaces better than most truck-based SUVs. That's thanks to an independent double-wishbone suspension with height-adjustable rear air springs and the LR4's range of electronic aids-and a series of revisions to its suspension and steering. A four-corner, independent, height-adjustable air suspension and Land Rover's exclusive Terrain Response system (with separate modes commanding the behavior of an armory of electronics for several different driving conditions, such as "mud and ruts" or "sand and dunes") help bring impressive off-road ability to the 2010 Land Rover LR4 without sacrificing on-road handling. A central-locking differential engages when conditions warrant maximum grip.
Comfort and quality have to be dealt with in different ways with the 2010 Land Rover LR4. For comfortable seating, the second-row passengers have it best. The LR4 requires a little taller step-in than crossover drivers will like, but the middle row has a good view of the world, and the bench seat is firm enough for long-distance comfort. In front, passengers get nicely shaped leather bucket seats with Land Rover's infinitely adjustable armrests-but they don't get much room for their knees, between the door panels and the wide center console. The optional third-row seat is strictly for children, but the "pedestal" third row has an elevated roof for more headroom and can fit adults in an emergency. It's very difficult to access, but it tucks away nicely when not in use. Five-passenger versions have a large cargo hold instead, and all LR4s have decent console and cubby storage, as well as a shallow top glove box teamed with a larger, lower compartment. The LR3 had a reputation for unreliable operation, and the LR4 swaps in new electronic controls for the entire vehicle and a new engine-so buyers should understand both before signing on.
The LR4 has not been crash-tested by either NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) or the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). Front side airbags are standard on the 2010 Land Rover LR4, however, along with side curtain bags covering first- and second-row occupants. Anti-lock brakes are also standard and include an all-terrain mode.
The list of standard features on the 2010 Land Rover LR4 includes rear parking distance control, dual-zone climate control, and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. An upper-line HSE adds goodies like bi-xenon headlamps, power heated mirrors, a navigation system with off-road features, front park-distance control, Bluetooth connectivity, and magnificent 550-watt premium surround sound. Options include Sirius Satellite Radio, adaptive front lighting, and a cooler box. The front passenger seat has eight-way power adjustments, and the power-adjustable steering column has a memory function. New features include an LCD touchscreen to control audio and climate functions, as well as iPod connectivity.